Writing Your Life …. how to get started

Lesson 1 Activities

 1. Why do you want to write your life story… what are your motives [this helps to define your audience] eg for your family, as a social history, to share your knowledge, to make sense of an incident or heal a rift, as a creative writing exercise or to gain revenge. [If revenge is your motive then beware because “bitterness does not read well”.]

2. Snowflake 1.

Write a one sentence summary of your life, this is the initial triangle of the snowflake. Concentrate on your abilities, achievements and interests. For me it would be something like:- A Yorkshire-born equestrienne and Welsh trained scientist, a former teacher turned writer of history, who married a lad from Down Under and has three great kids.

3. Snowflake 2.

Take each point in your sentence and expand it, so you end up with a full paragraph. This is part two of the snowflake, giving you the Star of David stage.

4.Timeline from birth

Make a timeline of the major events in your life? You won’t write up your story in chronological order but the timeline will help you remember specific events and situations and put them in some perspective of your age and location. It will also help with language;  if I write about living in England I’m going to use the appropriate words ‘fields and ponds’, not the ‘paddocks and dams’ of my home in Australia. Have you picked up any words or sayings from migrant ancestors?

5. Draw a floor plan of the first house you can remember living in [don’t worry about scale]. Describe that house. Can you remember incidents associated with it? Add furniture and draw the garden if that helps. Mentally walk through the house. Who do you meet? Stop for a chat with them. Write down what you remember. What about the street/location and neighbours. Spend at least 10 minutes writing about each of the specific areas eg ‘kitchen’, ‘my bedroom’, ‘the garden’, ‘the street’ and ‘neighbours’.

NB do not  recall or enter a room/place with ‘bad memories’ until you feel able to do so, and perhaps only with the support of a loved one to talk to.

 Homework- lesson 1

  • Organise your writing area and select an appropriate time to write. Try and write for at least 10 minutes each day. If you don’t write for 10 minutes write out your excuse!
  • If you have an internet connection, use Google or other search engines to find out what major events happened in your birth year and subsequent years. This could be a memory trigger.
  • Complete the time line for each decade of your life
  • Complete the visit to your house.


My time line                         Year I was born 19…..

My parents are

Their occupations


Age 0-10 years                         Years 19……. to 19……..

Major events in this time frame eg end of war, Queen’s coronation

Place of birth

Place we lived [house]

Carer eg parents, grandparents etc

Siblings /Relatives


Play – with what eg dolls, meccanno

Play – with whom eg friends/siblings

Where eg farm where Dad worked

Work… did you have a job eg collect eggs

Pets eg dogs and horses – name, describe

Primary School name

School travel eg walk, bus

School friends and teachers

School incidents

Major events in my life eg moving town / death of ..


Age 11-20 years                      Years 19……. to 19……..

Major events eg JFK assassination, Man landing on moon

Place we lived [house]


Play with whom eg friends/siblings

What did we do?


Secondary School name

School travel

School friends

School teachers

School incidents

Social life as teen


Clothes as teen

Leaving school to do what?

First job/Uni days/Part-time work

Major events in my life eg moving from home / starting work

Repeat for all decades

e.g. Age 21-30 years                          Years 19……. to 19……..




Lesson 2 Activities

 What motivates you? Think about your personal ambitions and characteristics and how they have affected your life …. jot then down, think of examples

 A natural disaster. If you had 15 minutes to save something from your house, what would it be and why? What can you recall of preparing for and/or coping with a natural disaster such as earthquakes, cyclones, storms, floods or fires etc? Use point form to recall your preparation and then bring to mind the smells, sounds and feelings during the ‘emergency’.


In week1/step 2 you expanded one sentence to a paragraph. Now the shape of a snowflake begins to be revealed. Take each sentence and expand it to a paragraph, so you end up with a 1+ page summary.

 Write a flyer to promote “ME” eg daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, equestrienne, teacher, author, memoir-writer, researcher, volunteer, patch-worker, family historian, etc

New inventions Look at when things were invented eg TV, antibiotics, nylon, microwave oven etc and what effect did those things have on your life?

 Start to draw your life i.e. a mind map with you in the centre

Try to use pictures rather than words to tap into a different part of your brain… is there a theme emerging? This may be a pointer to themes for your memoir chapters.

 Homework – lesson 2

  • From your life story select a photograph, ornament, medal, piece of clothing or jewellery [or any small item or a photograph if it’s a grandfather clock!] to bring into the next lesson and be prepared to tell us a brief story about that item. [maximum time 1 minute]
  • Continue with the Mind-map of your life
  • Looking at the important things you have written or drawn in your timelines and mind map, think about themes in your life, think about potential chapter headings for your life story. List your chapter headings and think about why they are appropriate [rather than, for example, a chronological list]. For example, a traveller may write about the different countries they have lived, or it may be ‘cars/motorbikes/horses I’ve owned’ … to a certain extent even this will tend to be chronological but you may start your story with an out-of-order piece


Lesson 3 activities

Your homework item…. [From your life story select a photograph, ornament, medal, piece of clothing or jewellery, or any small item, to bring into the next lesson and be prepared to tell us a brief story about that item.] Tell us about why it is important to your family story     [1 minute maximum].

Write the story of the item above using conversation to show its importance

 Chapter themes … what have you selected and why… you have just 1 minute to tell us

The dramatic start…. How are you going to hook the reader on the first page? What [exciting/ scary/ really interesting] incident from your life could you relate and how did it tie in with your life story eg I was born in Pickering Yorkshire in a wet snowy March….OR

 Without warning the chestnut stallion lunged across the stable, ears pinned back, teeth bared. He clamped his teeth round my arm and dragged me across the stable, striking at me with his front legs, legs with hooves banded by steel.  I’d spent my life working with horses, even stallions, yet I had never been attacked before. Half a world away from home I thought it was all going to end.

1988, what did you do in our Bicentennial year? Go to Expo in Brisbane? See the Flying Scotsman train? Did you keep a diary? If so how about a plan to write it up as a gift for your family members in 2018.


Homework- week 3

  • Draw a separate mind map for each chapter heading, you can keep going back to add more incidents as they bubble to the surface of your memory.
  • Choose one of the chapter mind maps. Look at all your items in that mind map, write them out onto a piece of paper then cut them into individual pieces. Draw one per day from a hat  and use that item for your daily 10 minute writing exercise


Lesson 4 activities

 References and Index: Should be added for a local history, a family history and a biography. An autobiography is a memoir so references may not be necessary (you can write “The motorbike manual suggested….” and “An article in the The Courier Mail of 11 September 1975 advised….”) Remember an index may be useful for the reader. Quotes must be obvious as a quote and referenced

 Eternity Exhibition at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra           This Exhibition has a series of  ‘themes’. Visitors are given the chance to record their story, they  select one of these themes and speak for one minute. This makes up “Your Story”, a collection of many small memories. So select one of these themes and write for a minute on it: Mystery, Loneliness, Passion, Fear, Separation, Devotion, Chance, Thrill, Hope, Joy….

 Describe your father or mother [i.e. character not physical appearance] using     5 words/phrases. Select one and describe an incident which illustrates that characteristic. Think about how these characteristics may have affected you. Repeat for your other parent, grand-mothers and -fathers, siblings, spouse, children, AND YOURSELF. [Complete for homework.]

Third person writing may help with ‘blockages’, unhappy memories or to see another person’s viewpoint. Select an incident of conflict from your past and write about that incident in the third person i.e. use ‘He’ or ‘She’ rather than ‘I’.

Write a paragraph summarising a 5 or 10 year time slot in your life ie a summary of, for example, your high school days, your first job, parenthood

 Learning to drive a car or ride a horse or bicycle or motorbike. Write a story about who taught you and put emotion into the story. Dramatise it a bit!

 A life in the day of YOU, [not ‘a day in your life’, but ‘a life in your day’ so your daily activities show where you came from and some of your life experiences]. Write about your day, in detail, and include information which shows us some of your life history. eg if I refer to “listening to the brass bands of my Yorkshire childhood”, it shows I was not born/brought up in Australia. Mine is at https://secondtwentiethbattalionaif.wordpress.com/memoir/a-life-in-the-day-of/


Homework- week 4

  • Go back through the various exercises  that we have done both in class and for homework. Try to complete them.
  • Next week I will ask you to read the first paragraph of a chapter [not necessarily the first chapter], to see what ‘dramatic’ start you have used to hook a reader and encourage them to keep reading.


Lesson 5 activities

 The dramatic start … tell us how are you going to start one of your chapters?

I remember, I wish, Once, Now ….. a page starting with a memory (Mine is at https://secondtwentiethbattalionaif.wordpress.com/memoir/i-remember-i-wish-once-now/)

 Embarrassment Recall an incident in your life that you found excruciatingly embarrassing. Now write about it but make it into a comedy!

 Childhood, an escapade. When, where, why, who with, what happened? Recall the incident and write about it from the point of view of you the adult looking back to when you were a child. Now write about the same incident in the present tense as if you are the child at that time

 School uniform Describe your school uniform in detail….colour, fabric.. include footwear, sports uniform. How did you wear your hair. Did you feel ‘smart’ or ‘grown up’ or ‘uncomfortable’?

How was your childhood different from the current generation? Look at the way of life eg wash day, ironing, baking, meals and home life, did you have to help at home eg feed the chooks, pig. Describe one of these tasks in detail

Update your snowflake triangle. Now you have written or drawn your mind map, would you alter the one sentence summary of your life which made up the first part of your snowflake triangle? If so, how?


  • Research the origin of your surname. Does it relate to a place, an occupation, a physical description, a characteristic? Research that place or occupation, does the characteristic still come through in modern generations eg think former PMs Hawke and Peacock.
  • See what inspiration you glean from  your Christmas card list
  • Select a name from your Christmas Card list and  write why that person is important to you

Writing exercise:

 I remember; I wish; Once; Now                 

I remember when the body was not so battered, when it was younger, slimmer, more muscular and more supple. It was toned by bike rides to and from the stables before and after school; it was trimmed by riding horses every single day; it was tempered by vigorous grooming of those same horses and it was strengthened by cleaning stables and tossing straw. The body had equine blood flowing through its genes. Its grandfather was a saddler, his grandfather had been a blacksmith, and there were plenty of farmers in other generations who had all worked their land with the magnificent Shires and Clydesdales. It was a body genetically addicted to Equus caballus.

It used to be very sharp, with lightening fast reactions, it was proactive not reactive. Incidents rarely happened and if gravity was the victor, well the body was more flexible. It would relax into the ground as it landed after a disagreement between horse and rider about velocity, height and direction. It managed to hang onto the reins each time and so avoid the long, ignominious trudge home following the trail of galloping hooves. It returned for repeated doses of training, day after day, week after week, the success of a few steps of “passage” or sailing over the jumps with ease being sufficient opiate to continue the addiction.

I wish the body had been treated with more compassion by time. Now the body creaks as it stiffly eases out of bed; now the arthritic joints are extracting payment for their misspent youth.

Once the decline started, it happened very quickly. It was retiring from competition that caused it. The body was only riding for pleasure, it slowed down. The mind which worked in tandem with the body was the main let-down, the weakest link. Now the mind was not quite so sharp, the responses dulled. The disagreements with the equine became less anticipated, not expected, the reactions became too slow; the former recoveries turned into ‘prangs’. The falls were still only a few in number but they took a much greater toll, they were no longer ‘bounces’, they were ‘splats’, the recoveries took longer, days not hours, weeks not days.

The injuries from one fall were so bad that the Medical Fund asked if the body had been in a car accident, the Police asked if the battered face was the result of domestic violence; the children didn’t know how to handle a Mum in hospital looking as if she’d been in a boxing ring. The neck vertebrae had been cracked; the same injury had left Christopher Reeve in a wheel chair. This body had had an extremely lucky escape.

Once horses had been the reason for living, now they’d been the reason for almost dying.

Once the day started and ended with horses being fed and rugged; now it starts and ends with a cuppa and a stretch.

Once the saddles and bridles were soaped and polished every day; now they reside on their racks untouched.

Once the farrier was a regular visitor; now there’s been no visit in years.

Once the weekend competitions were trained for and planned months in advance; now weekends barely register

Once “Hoofs and Horns’ was the magazine seen scattered over the living room; now it’s “Country Patchwork”.

Once the horse float had transported the family equines all over the state; now it has transported student beds from flat to flat and stored the kid’s excess furniture.

Once I was going to sell all the gear as this battered body no longer needs it; now it has gone to one of my sons and grandsons who have started the cycle again with their younger, fitter, more muscular and more supple bodies. The family addiction to Equus caballus continues.

©    Caroline Gaden



Week 6 – Discussion topics

 Note down a ‘hot’ fashion you loved or a real embarrassing fashion Mum made you wear when you were a teenager. What was it and how did you feel?

Stadium…. have you even been to an event at a stadium eg Olympic Games, international football match, Military tattoo, rock concert…. what is your main memory of the event itself? What other memories do you have of the day/night?

Advertisement on TV or radio. Can you remember any ‘jingles’ eg the Vegemities

Computers…. how and when did you start to use them… any funny incidents???

Sayings and gestures …think about family sayings eg for me Yorkshire phrases are part of my past eg “you’re being a daft ‘aypeth” or from NSW we get “crook as Rookwood”      What about gestures? Tapping your wrist for “What’s the time?” not done now as everyone has a mobile phone, not a watch.

 What are your Christmas stories. What do you remember doing as a child? What traditions did you pass on to your own children? What traditions are they and their partners passing on to your grandchildren?

  • Christmas card list, write a paragraph on two people, why are they important enough to keep in touch, when/where did you meet?
  • Where were you on Christmas Day?
  • Who with?
  • Christmas tree
  • Making decorations
  • Decorating the tree
  • Room decorations
  • Santa’s visit
  • Meal – hot or cold?
  • Christmas Pudding-coins
  • Presents –stocking, pillow case?
  • Christmas Carols
  • Church Service
  • Carols by Candlelight
  • Boxing Day


Week 7  Discussion topics

 Keeping family treasures – care of ‘your’ archival material:


Electronic versions … technology keeps changing so keep up to date

Textiles… keep the mould and insects out!

Mylar best for storage but a cheaper option are oven bags which are made from PET.

Zip lock bags are polyetheylene as another cheap option

  1. What can you remember of early TV or radio programs
  • Describe the set
  • Who listened
  • When eg meal times, Sunday afternoon
  • Specific programs eg Argonauts, Goon Show, The Frost Report.
  • What can you recall of the actors/characters/plots
  1. The Decades in your life … for each decade look at the following
  • What were you doing, childhood, school, work, married with kids?
  • Clothes – fashions of the time eg for mini skirts – how short were yours?
  • Music of the time… particular groups/songs you enjoyed
  • Drugs/Alcohol…. were they an issue
  • Protests eg Women’s Liberation/ Ban the Bomb marches / Vietnam protests
  1. Sport, Craft and/or hobbies
  • What sport and hobbies did you pursue…. Any amusing incidents you can recall?
  • Did you make anything eg sew, knit, woodwork?
  1. The Entertainer….Have you appeared in a stage play or musical as a child or adult…. Tell us about it. If not have you been to a live show eg a rock concert, or an ice show eg Torvill and Dean, something at the Sydney Opera House, Jesus Christ Superstar, G&S, or what about a local production. Again, tell us about it.

 5. Unusual experience… have you done something really ‘different’ eg climbing a mountain, riding a camel or elephant or something ‘tough’ where you had to plan and prepare? Note down the event then later come back and use detail to provide the uniqueness of the experience.


 Week 8 – Discussion topics

 Food… the food you were given as a child is probably very different from what you ate as a teen and in your adulthood… what changes have there been to your diet over the years? Why have these changes occurred? Any favourite recipes? Include them … if you are a “foodie”, could this be a theme running through your story?

Plants …. do you have memories specifically associated with plants and gardens? A visit to a Botanic Garden? Things from childhood gardens, what you have grown, what you grow now, a vegetable garden?

How did you fill in your spare time – think of the changes over the years from your childhood, parenting years, working life, retirement, grand-parenting?      What about playing, what sort of toys, what books did you read, what movies have you enjoyed, amateur dramatics, bicycles, cars etc, how has that changed over the years as your family circumstances have changed…. what did you do with your own kid  and now the grandkids…. what does each generation call you eg are you Mum, Gran, Gramps,  Pa etc

Recall a day at the beach… the colours, smells, feel of sand, sunburn, learning to swim, learning to surf, what are your most vivid memories?

Friends from school days Who were they, why were they friends, what ‘scapes’ did you get up to together? Do you still keep in touch? Who would you like to catch up with again? Why?

 Write about an unusual, almost spooky, incident in your life.  What? When? Who was there, where were you, any lasting consequences?

Describe some article IN DETAIL, eg the clothes you wore on your wedding day or another when you made your debut or confirmation… any important day … or a piece of furniture or jewellery or motor bike or your first car which meant a lot to you. Concentrate on texture and ‘feel’ of fabric, smell of upholstery, colour. What emotions did you experience?                                    

OR write about the history of a specific item… tell its story


By now you have lots of memories written down…. work out what themes or     chapter headings you are going to use for your life story and start compiling YOUR MEMOIR


 Writing a memoir,

From notes taken at a Jan Cornall workshop, with many additional notes by Caroline Gaden   ©

You ALL have memories and you can all write those memories down… you just need to get organised and DO IT.  Even if you find writing physically difficult don’t use that as an excuse, use a tape recorder and get someone else to do the transcription. Microsoft Word [on XP and 2003] has ‘Speech’

You do not need to have a university degree, you do not need to have studied English literature, all you need to be able to do is find the time and the commitment to do it.

A memoir is not an autobiography, nor is it a family history but it may include elements of both….

  • it can select a shorter time frame,
  • it doesn’t have to be in chronological order,
  • it doesn’t have to be so fiercely accurate… incidents can be merged to help the story telling
  • it is your memory, your feelings and your perspective and so may differ from the memory/feelings of your sibling/spouse/parent … no one is ‘more right’ or ‘more wrong’.


We can all tell stories

Is my story worthwhile?            We talk ourselves down….                    Don’t!

Where do we start?                   We all find excuses to avoid writing….. Don’t!

You need time to daydream and drift, to let thoughts settle and allow ideas bubble up… that’s the way the brain and long-term memory works.

It is useful to attend workshops [thanks to Jan Cornall for the inspiration to get started] or to discuss your writing with others eg NE Writer’s Centre [PO Box 1219, Ph 67727210, newc@northnet.com.au ]  

Write about what you’re burning to write about first

May be useful to map out your story, the bits you think are important. Major turning points in life will be major turning points in the story eg migration or marriage or birth or death of major character.

  • may help to construct a ‘mind map’ or to ‘draw your life’
  • may help to draw a time line for your life … world events may trigger memories
  • may help to write your own flyer listing your achievements i.e. blow your own trumpet!
  • meditation may help the memory to surface and relive the senses you felt at the time

Write daily…. Just 10 minutes per day to get the flow going –  like a jogger who does a bit every day; they don’t expect to run 20 km from day one, without any training.

Time yourself. Keep writing even if your mind is blank! Don’t cross out. Don’t worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation. Run free, don’t feel constrained at all and go with the flow.

What chapters could you uses to write your life story? What is best for you?

  • Chronological chapters eg Birth, Childhood, Schooldays, Work, Marriage
  • Person chapters eg My parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, spouse, partner , children, friends, neighbours, colleagues, teachers etc
  • Place chapters eg houses, villages, towns, cities, countries where I have lived
  • Events chapters eg Christmas, summer holidays, birthdays
  • Theme chapters  eg Family I have loved, Friends I have endured, Places I have lived, Schools I have hated, Dogs I have adored, Horses I have ridden.

Look at your list of chapter heading, put them on a list in a hat, draw one out, write about that for your 10 minutes, when all are done you can then look at the best order and linkages.

You may use diaries and letters for inspiration and support if you are lucky enough to have them.

Have a notebook and pen always handy for the things you are writing about, to jot down that sudden memory that arrives unbidden.

Have another notebook for the things you can’t write about… keep under lock and key, it’s for your eyes only, may be painful, may hurt others, not for publication but may help ‘unblock a blockage’.

Must be compassionate towards yourself and you need support

You need to transport the reader into another world

  • Use your senses to visualise the place or atmosphere ie a description

Imagery can help  Begin with image of eg a beach- you are walking along it.  What are you feeling? Touching? Smelling? Tasting? Hearing? Seeing? Allow your senses to help with descriptions. [Imagine you are blind, helps bring out other senses eg sound, touch]

  • You may use a photograph to trigger a memory. Describe the people in photograph, their dress, who they are, their personality, where and when and why.
  • Use a piece of jewellery, an ornament, a medal, a letter or a diary entry to trigger a story
  • To evoke an era use brand names [eg I was hoovering the floor] or refer to brands of food of the time, or things no longer with us [eg Zam Buk for cuts], or TV/Radio programs of the time eg Zoo Quest for BBC TV in the 1950s. There are some good web sites
  • May eventually need to research to ensure you have the detail correct eg date of Queen’s coronation, the year the FJ Holden was released, but do this later, don’t stop the flow of writing.
  • I kept six honest serving men, they taught me all I knew

Their names are What and Why and When and Where and How and Who.  [Kipling]

Writers voice

It is a confident voice, your ‘alter ego’ who is writing

Step into the character or the narrator, reader needs to emphasise with that person.

  • May adopt the voice of a parent, a teacher, an environmentalist, an ‘expert’.
  • May adopt the voice of child especially if writing of the times when you were a child [eg ‘Good morning Mrs Hardcastle’.]
  • May need to put yourself in another’s shoes –  to provide understanding of both characters and situations
  • May need to detach yourself if you have painful memories (such as abuse) to write about… ‘The little girl did XY’ rather than ‘I did XY’ Don’t force yourself to go there, wait until you are ready.
  • Your style may be chatty, entertaining, informative, detached, create shock, or ‘in your face’.
  • It may be as a family member eg Great Aunt Lucy, so anyone who knew her would immediately recognise the phrases used and be able to hear the tone of voice.
  • May be able to write piece as fiction using a trigger to get you going eg The door slammed ….

Humour and exaggeration are both useful tools

Use description to ‘show, not tell’ ie show the reader your mother ‘thumping the oak dining table before bursting into tears’ rather than just telling them your mother often cried out in frustration.

Have a go at writing as a child, as a teenager, as a young adult. Play around with tenses

Whose voice are you using? Be a story teller!


Moving through a story

  1. Summary

Aerial shot, not a lot of detail but covers a bit area or big time frame. Covers a lot of detail but all seen from a distance, none is more important than another eg can do a 10 year period in which you don’t want to cover much detail


  1. Scene… shorter time span, a close up, aspecific time location, can give conversation, expressions. Dialogue is a great way of getting information across in a short time as there’s no long page of description and you can get to the grist of the story.


  1. Musing … a commentary, looking back, compare then and now, bridge eras/time, may use a different type face, can summarise a long time in a paragraph and make a final comment eg It’s taken me 30 years to understand….


Your audience

What I really want to say is that these are my memories written especially for …eg family so they understand why I am so eccentric; wider audience people with an interest in a particular time or place.


Potential Subjects- examples

Christmas.  Summer at Grandma’s house.  The mulberry bush.     Holidays.    My 10th birthday

World events eg the day man landed on the moon.   The neighbour from hell

Work, sport, hobby, games we played       School, Friends Family.   My first motor bike

Intense moments of pain.             Intense moments of joy               Intense moments of fear

The year my father died.             The year my parents separated      My favourite pet

The day I broke my leg.               When I fell off the …..                Why I love…….

My black eye ….                        The day I was caught in a rip       My first day at Yoga


GOALS                       Write these goals down!

  • Bite the bullet and set the timetable
  • Be obsessed and write 10 minutes every day
  • What would you like to write in the next month, six months, twelve months?


Further reading

Remember when – How to unlock your life story                         John Hockney

Writing your life                                                                       Patti Miller

Writing the Memoir                                                                   Judith Barrington

The pocket muse, ideas and inspiration for writing                     Monica Wood

Growing up in the Thirties                                            Jane Madders & Grace Horseman

Growing up in the Forties         [also did 1910-1920]                 Grace Horseman

Writing a non-boring family history                                           Hazel Edwards

Telling Tiny Stories                                                                 Michelle Dicinoski


Open                                        Andre Agassi

True Colours                            Adam Gilchrist

My Life                                     Bill Clinton

Life on Air                                David Attenborough


 Some Memoirs to Read

Shot                                         Gail Bell, personal response to being shot

Head over heels                        Sam and Jenny Bailey

Out of the Blue                         RM Winn

In the Middle of Nowhere          Terry Underwood

Silent footsteps                         Sally Henderson

The Bean Patch                        Shirley Painter, written as if the child was not her

Sea Rhymes with Me                 Pamela Mathers, adventures in her 70s

Airmail                                     Kate Fitzpatrick, lots of letters over the years

Misadventures                          Sylvia Smith, one chapter per person

The colour of water                  James McBride, written with and about his mother

The horses too are gone            Michael Keenan, local writer, a period of adversity-drought

Almost French                          Sarah Turnbull, adapting to a new country/culture

The pianist                               Wladyslaw Szpilman, non-judgemental – surviving WWII

Mao’s last dancer                     Li Cunxin, childhood in a Communist culture

A Celtic Childhood                   Bill Watkins, laugh out loud funny stories of childhood

There’s a bear in there [and he wants a Swedish].. how my career went from Play School presenter to brothel receptionist     Merriday Eastman, funny, lots of dialogue if you can get past the bad language.


Any memoir you can find as it will give you some ideas as to what will work best for you.